Surgical abortions have slowed, but pills and chemicals are reaching more homes—and killing more babies
Culture Children's Books
Under Threat by Martin Jenkins: Under Threat tells the story of 30 endangered animal species, ranging from the Asian elephant to the Korean club-tail dragonfly. This oversized book is beautiful, from its embossed cover to its full-page, screen-print illustrations of each animal, designed to look like old postage stamps. The facing page describes in a calm, nonhysterical tone each animal’s behavior, the pressures that contribute to its endangered status, and the helpful actions people are taking to preserve it. A box insert provides extra facts, including the animal’s class and family, endangered status, current population, and range map. (Ages 9-12)
A World of Discovery by James Brown and Richard Platt: This large-format book devotes two pages to each of 30 different discoveries or inventions. A screen-printed infographic makes up one page of each two-page spread. The facing page presents more information in prose form. Topics include paper, time, high-rise buildings, the internal combustion engine, refrigeration, etc. The pages about paper, for example, include the story of paper’s invention in China, its spread to the Arab world and Europe, and its importance. The infographic shows the papermaking process. Ideal for older elementary children interested in how things work. (Ages 7-10)
Fish Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup: Beautifully illustrated with a gold-embossed cover, this book for early elementary readers contains an enormous amount of information about fish. The interactive text has an informal style: “These are all fish … aren’t they? You’re right! Some of these are NOT fish and we put them here to make sure you’re awake.” Every two-page spread shows many fish and a different topic: freshwater fish, feeding, schooling, fish parents, etc. (Caution: One spread deals with fish evolution.) “Can you find it?” activities add game elements to the book. The detailed fish illustrations should interest budding young naturalists. (Ages 6-9)
Bones in the White House by Candice Ransom: Thomas Jefferson was fascinated by stories of gigantic creatures that lived in the wilderness. Explorers had dug up huge bones, and Jefferson was eager to know more. This book tells the story of early American paleontology and Jefferson’s desire to possess a complete skeleton of the animal Americans called the mammoth. It also tells how the word mammoth came to mean anything huge, and how mammoth-crazy Americans sent Jefferson a “mammoth cheese” and journalists wrote about “mammoth radishes.” (Ages 3-7)
Some recent picture books bow to current preoccupations with sexual identity: Mac Barnett’s 2019 picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown (The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins) claims she had a lesbian relationship. Yet, there are still many good books to choose from.
Creature Features, illustrated by Natasha Durley (Big Picture Press, 2020), focuses on animals with distinct features—excellent ears, nice noses, enormous eyes—and includes dozens of brightly colored animals.
Seeds by Carme Lemniscates (Candlewick Studio, 2020) uses simple words and energetic illustrations to explore the life contained in seeds, including metaphorical ones: “A smile is a powerful seed. One that can bring joy and friendship.”
Using the familiar rhythm of The House That Jack Built, Randi Sonenshine in The Nest That Wren Built (Candlewick, 2020) shows how wrens build their nests, tend their eggs, and care for their young. Gorgeous illustrations draw the reader’s attention to these lovely little birds.